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Implementing Effects-Based Water Quality Criteria for Eutrophication in Beaver Lake, Arkansas: Linking Standard Development and Assessment Methodology

Implementing Effects-Based Water Quality Criteria for Eutrophication in Beaver Lake, Arkansas: Linking Standard Development and Assessment Methodology

Journal of Environmental Quality 44(5): 1503-1512

To address water quality standards needed to prevent accelerated eutrophication, many states in the United States have developed effects-based standards related to nutrients. In many cases, this has resulted in specific standards for Secchi transparency (ST) and phytoplankton biomass measured as sestonic chlorophyll (chl-). The state of Arkansas recently adopted its first effects-based water quality criteria for Beaver Lake in northwestern Arkansas, which was a growing-season geometric mean chl- <8 μg L and an annual average ST >1.1 m. However, the adopted standard did not have a predefined assessment methodology that outlined the frequency and duration of potential exceedances. This study used hydrologic frequency analysis to estimate the risk of exceeding these water quality standards using measured and modeled data from Beaver Lake from 2001 to 2014. Beaver Lake conformed to common models in reservoir limnology in that ST was least and chl- was greatest in the river-reservoir transition zone and decreased in the downstream direction toward the dam. Greater chl- and lesser ST was clearly related to total phosphorus concentrations along this gradient. Thus, the risk of exceeding the water quality criteria decreased in a downstream direction. There were substantial differences in the probability of exceeding the adopted water quality criteria based on both spatial and temporal variation in the potential assessment periods. Based on the way the standard was developed and the risk of exceeding these standards derived from data collected before the standards were in place, we recommend that a minimum of half of the years assessed be necessary to result in a water quality violation. A number of other assessment considerations are presented that could provide flexibility to regulatory agencies in assessing water quality standards.

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Accession: 058068217

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26436267

DOI: 10.2134/jeq2015.01.0020

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